Saturday, 15 December 2012

Freaks - Lisa's Review

*** SPOILERS ***

Here we are on the first week of our 'Beyond Nasty' launch.  Fresh from the accomplishment of completing the 72 'Nasties' List, we're pushing on to other movies in a similar vein.

This weeks offering is 'Freaks'.  I knew nothing of this movie when I started to watch it, so was surprised that it was made in 1932!!  That probably makes it the oldest movie I've ever seen.  From a bit of background reading I find out it was made with actual real-life circus performers who had deformations or where seen as 'freaks' at the time.  It was commonplace to use makeup and costumes to achieve this look, so the use of real people caused a bit of a furore at the time, consequently leading to its banning for 30 years.  I don't see the problem.  Surely if you want to see these people as equal to us (which they are), then they should be able to make a bit of money from the situation, rather than a role go to a much less suited actor?  Anyways...

I loved the style of this movie.  It was indeed very odd, but captivating at the same time.  I found the story pulled me right in and kept me transfixed all the way through.  It didn't feel like I was watching out of any sort of morbid curiosity, but because the characters were real, the story interesting and I simply wanted to see how it all panned out.  Another aspect I loved was the musical score in the movie.  It reminded me of really old cartoons.

Our storyline here focuses around Hans, a midget from the circus the movie is set around.  He is engaged to an absolutely adorable woman (also a midget) called Frieda.  We learn that Hans seems to have a bit of a crush on a normal sized trapeze artist Cleopatra (a nasty cow).  For some unknown reason he wants to be with Cleopatra and leaves Frieda for her.   Baaaaaaad move for every reason possible.  Why you would want to leave a woman like Frieda is anyones guess.   Frieda, even after losing her Hans, begs Cleopatra to leave him alone and accidentally lets slip about an inheritance he is coming into.  This plants an idea in Cleopatras head and she marries him planning to poison him, pocket his money and live happilly ever after with her boyfriend Hercules, the circus strongman.

The Wedding reception is definately the oddest you would have ever seen.  Cleopatra gets rather inebriated and is rude and obnoxious to all the other performers.  She openly snogs her boyfriend Hercules at her wedding reception and mocks Hans for getting jealous.  The guests however seem to accept her and chant 'One of us, One of us' in a rather menacing way.. along with some gobble  gobbling???

What follows is the discovery that Cleopatra is slowly poisoning her husband.  She does it for the first time at the reception and proceeds to continue administering poison as she supposedly cares for him and gives him medicine.  However another circus performer overhears Cleopatra and Hercules discussing the plot and tells Hans and all the other freaks.  They plan revenge!  The film culminates in the freaks attacking them, this isn't shown in any real graphic nature, but still manages to be frightening and ominous.  I loved the scene of all the 'freaks' closing in one Hercules.  Fantastic stuff!

We end the movie going back to a scene that was briefly shown at the start where a circus master is showing a group of punters into a pen where a previously beautiful trapeze artist has been horribly disfigured.  We finally get a peek into the pen and see Cleopatra squalking like a bird.  She seems to be without legs and has feathers all over her torso.  Her face is also disfigured.

The movie ends sadly with Hans in his newly aquired mansion.  Frieda comes to see him with 2 of her friends from the circus.  He is angry at them for coming to see him and he is still grieving for his situation with Cleopatra.  After everything that's happened, the movie ends with Frieda holding Hans as he cries.  He doesn't deserve that woman!

I enjoyed this movie.  It was poignant, odd, quirky, interesting, moving and different to anything I have ever watched before.  I would definately recommend it.

Thumbs up from me.


  1. Great review!

    I really struggled with this one... because I've seen it a million times, and the reasons I love it have kind of clouded over into "I love it".

    I enjoyed seeing it anew through your eyes!

  2. Oh, and we have to get you watching some more 30s horror movies... you're missing out!